“There’s gold in them there hills!”
Without zooming in, it can be tough to tell the difference, especially when the sun is shining and the water makes everything glisten.
Here’s a close-up of iron pyrite (fool’s gold) and actual gold side by side. One of the major differences between the two is that pyrite has hard edges, gold has softer edges. When you first get started, you might want to bring along a magnifying glass when you’re out panning or rockhounding. More tips below.
4 WAYS TO DISTINGUISH FOOL’S GOLD FROM REAL GOLD
SHINE: When you’re viewing fool’s gold with the natural eye, it will glisten, not shine. The edges will look sharp and it may separate in layers. Gold shines at any angle, not just when the “light is right”.
HARDNESS: Get a piece of copper and try to scratch the copper with the gold. If it scratches it’s pyrite. Pyrite is harder than copper. If you do have real gold, be careful with this test. You wouldn’t want to damage a beautiful gold nugget!
RESIDUE: Gold will leave a pure yellow residue while pyrite will leave a greenish-black powdery residue when rubbed against white porcelain.
EDGES: Pyrite has sharp edges and gold has rounder edges. The shape of fools’s gold is a lot more angular.
Look at the gold nugget below. This was found by a little girl in Coloma, CA.
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